Wadi Matkhandoush Natural Museum


Welcome sign to Wadi Matkhandoush


Wadi Matkhandoush

Wadi Metkhandoush

engraving of two cats fighting and standing on back legs
The Fighting Cats; The Two Cats.


Wadi Matkhandoush is truly a wonderful, natural museum of prehistoric engravings from Fezzan, housing a large number of engravings found across the valleys and rocks of the mountain. In reality, the valley of Matkhandoush is a unique open-air art gallery, preserving imagery of prehistoric animals that once roamed the fertile savannah, and as such it is one of the oldest museums in the world. The name is written in various forms including: Metkhandoush, Metkhandouch, Matkhandouch (as in the above sign), Metendouch, and several more.


an engraving of a  strange cat, probably mythical


trapping stone and a giraffe

Matkhendoush (Messak Settafet): Large Pastoral Period:

An engraving showing how trapping stones were used to catch large animals like giraffe. According to Professor Mori, who illustrated modern Tuareg examples of the trap, the animal places its foot on the big circle, the hoop, onto which were threaded a number of palm leaves [probably palm thorns] with their pointed ends pointing towards the centre, and as a result the animal's foot gets caught. The stone thus ends up attached to the animal's leg, eventually wearing it out to a slow halt, tragically to be caught by the chasing hunter(s). The whole trap is buried and therefore is invisible to the victim!

an engraving of a giraffe before a sun disc and wheel-like object.

Matkhendoush (Messak Settafet): Large Pastoral Period:   Professor Mori also suggests that the engravings may hide deeper symbolism and hidden mythology.


The photo below shows a modern hoop of similar design from Nalut, Nafousa Mountain.

trapping device from Nalut
Trapping Devices From Nalut.

engravings of animals and tifinagh letters

This engraving appears to have been super-imposed with letters of the Berber alphabet Tifinagh. (See Ghadames Museum for a table of the Berber alphabet.)

engravings of the Berber tifinar alphabet


engraving of a pastoral oxen

An engraving from the Pastoral period, with the horns unusually pointing down. Professor Fabrizio Mori relates that Herodotus called this animal: "Bos opisthonomos", and argues that these horns are a zoological oddity, also mentioned by Herodotus as a characteristic of the "backward"oxen ( opisthonomos : from Greek opisthen = backwards + nemein = graze).

cattle engravings

Eyeing the grass.

engraving of a cow's or bull's head, similar to Picasso's work

Picasso-like head.

an engraving of an elephant

An Elephant.

a detailed engraving of giraffes with skin texture showing

An engraving of a group of giraffes with skin details.


engraving of a rhino

A Prehistoric Rhinoceros Engraving.


prehistoric engraving of monitoe lizard from the sahara, libya

A Crocodile or a Monitor Lizard?


an engraving of a rhino and a giraffe


engravings of ostriches

Two Ostriches

prehistoric engraving of a horned animal


Prehistoric animal engraving